Customers pass mannequins displaying women's clothes as they exit a New Look fashion store in London, the UK. File picture: BLOOMBERG/SIMON DAWSON
Customers pass mannequins displaying women's clothes as they exit a New Look fashion store in London, the UK. File picture: BLOOMBERG/SIMON DAWSON

Brait cut its dividend by 42.65% to 78.15c as a stronger rand against the pound and tough retail conditions in the UK took their toll on its net asset value.

The investment holding company has a policy of linking its dividend to its net asset value per share, which fell 42.65% to R78.15 at March 31 2017 from R136.27 at March 31 2016, the company said in its results statement on Tuesday morning.

The rand gained 20.5% from R21.21/£ to R16.87/£ over the financial year, worsening the plunge in the rand value of Brait’s UK clothing chain New Look.

New Look was valued at R7bn on March 31, one-fifth of the R35bn it was valued the previous year. This contributed to the overall value of Brait’s investments, falling 39% to R44.4bn from R73bn.

"New Look’s 2017 financial year has clearly been difficult and conditions are expected to remain challenging through 2018. Plans have been set accordingly to address the specific issues experienced in 2017 and improve business performance, whilst continuing to focus investment in its strategic diversification initiatives in China, menswear and multichannel," Brait chairman Jabu Moleketi said in the results statement.

The value of UK grocery chain Iceland Food managed to grow 3% to R7.4bn despite the weakening pound. The value of gym chain Virgin Active was down 12% to R15.5bn, making it Brait’s largest holding.

"Based on the positive sales performance, this new Iceland Store concept will be rolled out to further parts of the UK, with 50-60 stores planned for the 2018 financial year, predominantly in London, as part of the ongoing programme of store refurbishment," Moleketi said.

The value of Brait’s South African fast moving consumer goods group Premier rose 7% to R12.4bn, making it the second largest investment in Brait’s portfolio.

"Premier continues to execute on its strategy of brand building, producing consistent quality offerings and product innovation, as well as operational efficiencies. With the normalisation of maize sale volumes and margins expected to resume after the first quarter of the 2018 financial year, together with the full-year benefits of 2017’s investment in three new baking plants, Premier’s core brands are well positioned to compete in their respective markets," Moleketi said.

Expressed in pounds, the drop in Brait’s net asset value per share was 28% to £4.63 from £6.43 in the previous year.

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